Going back to before, the symbolist drawings, by far were the most controversial. After Art Spiegelman published this book, he was accused of many things, one being that he betrayed his own people. His father was a Jew, and in the plot line, he portrayed Jews as weaklings. Mice, that were slain and chased down by powerful cats. Yet, he replies saying that in that time, this was true, and that is why he did the drawings this way (pastemagazine.com). Furthermore, Art Spiegelman was also criticized of putting loads of steriotipical attributes to his characters. In the book, as mentioned before, he portrayed Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, but he also portrayed Poles as pigs. This can be very indirect, but after much knowledge about pigs, people normally attribute them, and generalize them as greedy. For example in Animal Farm, by George Orwell, the pigs are extremely greedy and all they want is power and to take advantage of others. Because of strong influences like these, Maus readers could do the same connection, and think that Poles are greedy, like pigs.
Next, themes in this book were also challenging to society. First and foremost, one of the biggest (and challenging!) themes in this book is Warfare. This theme is clearly explored throughout the novel, and not only shows physical war, being the Jews vs. Nazis, but also a war inside the protagonist's head, Vladek, on decisions he has to take for the better of his family. This theme can be extremely challenging at times because it shows the point of view of the losing side. Their struggles, their problems, their dilemmas. It is hard for society to accept a book that shows things that seem so abhorrent that it doesn't even seem realistic! The antagonists of this novel, the Nazis, appear to be so cold-blooded and soulless, and even seem fictional! This idea of extreme war against one people, this target, this genocide, is extremely hard to accept and even to be believed in.
Another theme in this book that is challenging is power. In this book, the Nazi's quickly take over and gain power all over Europe, and are also eliminating Jews from their path. They were killing Jewish children to try to extinguish the Jewish race. In real life, the Nazi's were able to kill around six million Jews, and 1.5 million Jewish children (Koneg). Going back to the book, the way that the Nazis took power is what is challenging about this theme. What they did was get in countries, kill Jews, and take over. It is so raw, but in the time, so effective. For readers, this is something extremely hard to digest. Going back, the idea of genocide, and now as can be seen, genocide to take power seems so unimaginable that it hurts. It is crazy.
Konig, Nanette. “Holocaust Survivour Talk.” Graded School. Black Box, São Paulo. 12 Mar. 2015. Speech.
McNair, Charles. “The Booky Man: Maus... or There’s No Place Like Home for the Holocaust.” Paste Magazine. Ed. Paste Media Group. Paste Media Group, 5 Nov. 2009. Web. 2 May 2015. <http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2009/11/the-booky-man-maus-or-theres-no-place-like-home-fo.html>.
NPR Staff. “Graphic Novel About Holocaust ‘Maus’ Banned In Russia For Its Cover.” NPR. Ed. NPR. NPR, 28 Apr. 2015. Web. 2 May 2015. <http://www.npr.org/2015/04/28/402856064/graphic-novel-about-holocaust-maus-banned-in-russia-for-its-cover>.